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SHEPHERDSVILLE - The Bullitt Central Lady Cougars survived what could have been the perfect storm of negatives on Saturday to beat visiting Iroquois 47-40 before a large homecoming crowd.
It had been just a month earlier that Bullitt Central crushed the Lady Raiders 81-46 in the consolation bracket final of the First Citizens Bank Classic at North Bullitt.
In addition, the Lady Cougars were playing without head coach Bryan Bates on Friday as the veteran coach was in Bowling Green taking a college class that he could not miss (he had missed the class the week before when the Lady Cougars took on North Bullitt).
So, with all the distractions, assistant coach Josh Cravens was happy to just get a victory.
“We had beaten the earlier by a good margin and in that game we didn’t play well early,” Cravens said after the game. “Then tonight you have other things going on and playing them again and again we didn’t shoot it very well. That all makes the game a little closer than it should be.”
Bates missed a game last year because of the flu. This time around, the coaching staff was better prepared as they knew the situation well ahead of time.
“We didn’t change anything,” Cravens said. “We had the game plan in place all week.”
Still, that doesn’t make it any easier on an assistant coach taking over for the first time (Cravens was the number two assistant coach last season to Troy Wood who coached the team in Bates’ absence last year).
“I tried not to think about it all day,” the coach said. “I think it helped that I knew all week. We just did what we’ve been doing all year.”
That last statement pretty sums up the Lady Cougars this winter. The team is very inconsistent and seems to always be in foul trouble. That was the case again on Friday against Iroquois.
Bullitt Central (13-6) scored the last seven points of the first quarter to go up 13-8 and then scored eight of the first ten points of the second quarter to go up by 11 and they seemed on the verge of breaking the game open. That changed when Iroquois pulled back within 27-19 at halftime.
Just two minutes into the second half, Bullitt Central starters Kayla Riggs and Kaitlyn McKnight both picked up their third fouls less than 20 seconds apart. With those two out of the game, Iroquois pulled to within 30-25, but then ran into foul problems of their own when 6-2 center Shechinah Cain got her fourth and fifth fouls and went to the bench with 3:10 remaining.
Bullitt Central then got six points inside from senior Seaera Minyard to take a 36-29 lead into the final frame.
Chasity Hodge nailed a three-pointer to open the final frame for the Lady Cougars and that was big as Iroquois pulled to within 41-37 with 2:51 remaining in the game. After both teams exchanged two free throws, both McKinght and teammate Selena Yunt fouled out for the Lady Cougars. After the Yunt foul, Iroquois’ freshman Tiffany Brown hit one of two free throws to make it a three point contest.
The Lady Cougars had been trying to run time off the clock over the previous few minutes, but on the next trip down the floor Riggs got into the lane but her shot rolled off the rim. Minyard was there for the rebound and scored with less than a minute to play. After an Iroquois miss, Riggs was fouled and hit both free throws to account for the final score.
In that first meeting with Iroquois, Cain had pulled down 23 rebounds. When she went out of the game, the Lady Cougars may have relaxed.
“I think we might have done that,” Cravens said. “They thought that if she was out that they could coast.”
Minyard and Riggs each had 16 points to lead Bullitt Central and all but the three scored by Hodge came from the starters.
Elizabeth Pryor was the only Iroquois (7-13) player in double figures with 15 points.
Bullitt Central will take a break early this week from games before returning to action on Friday when they travel to Taylorsville to take on Spencer County in the first game of a girl/boy doubleheader that starts at 5 p.m.
Friday at Bullitt Central
IROQUOIS 40 (8-11-10-11) Cain 8, Allen 4, Jones 6, Pryor 15, Brown 7.
BULLITT CENTRAL 47 (13-14-9-11) Seaera Minyard 16, Kaitlyn McKnight 4, Selena Yunt 7, Kristen Collins 1, Kayla Riggs 16, Chasity Hodge 3.